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A couple of Himba women and their dog come down to the Kunene river's edge. The river flows west between the Namibia and Angola border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

 

“The Red People”

The Himba are indigenous peoples. One of Southern Africa's last traditionally living pastoral tribes with an estimated population of about 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, they are semi-nomadic with the men tending to livestock. The Himba live by herding sheep, goats and some cattle, and they move location several times a year to graze their livestock.

 

Like most other tribal societies, the Himba people are very distinct with regards to the roles of the men and women. Typically, the men are the warriors; they are the ones who bring food to the table, and the ones who are the authority on tribal affairs. The women on the other hand must maintain the household, raise the children, and provide for their husbands. The women are said to bathe once in their lifetime and that is before marriage. Each morning they rub a paste of butter, fat and red ochre on their skin and hair, giving them a distinctive red hue.

 

Hairstyles symbolize different life stages. Boys have ponytails, but when they marry, they pull all of their hair up in a cloth. Young girls have their hair plaited at the back of their head. When girls reach puberty they comb their hair over their faces; after they start menstruating they reveal their faces. When a mother decides her daughter is ready to start having babies, she puts her hair up with a skin.

 

The Himba are a people that live very distant from the "modern-western" world. Although they have contact with the western society, the Himba people have managed to maintain their traditional lifestyle.

Himba, “The Red People”, Kaokoland, Namibia. August, 2015.

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